May has given way to June, and that means it’s time for another blog recap! Here’s what I got up to last month.
The SF/F Read Alongs continue apace! May brought the end of Kushiel’s Justice, and though we’re taking a bit of a break from the Imriel trilogy for the moment, it will hopefully resume soon. More details on that when I have them. We also discussed, debated and flailed our way through Red Seas Under Red Skies, the second of Scott Lynch’s hugely enjoyable Gentleman Bastard series, and Between Two Thorns, the first Split Worlds novel by Emma Newman. Both were rereads for me, and it was really interesting to revisit them both. You can check out my posts for all of these by following the links on the SF/F Read Alongs (2016) page.
Also the SF/F Read Alongs front, schedules were announced for the second Split Worlds book, Any Other Name, and for a return to Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series – we’ll pick up where we left off by reading book 4, Late Eclipses, next month! You can find schedule information at the links.
In other group-reading news, my live read-throughs on Twitter are becoming a thing! Following the immensely satisfying reading of Ellen Kushner’s Riverside novels which concluded in May, I decided to tackle another series I hadn’t yet picked up – Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. The weekly readings of Book 1, Temeraire (aka His Majesty’s Dragon), are about to conclude this Sunday, and you can keep track of my reviews via the dedicated Temeraire page. My schedule for Book 2, Throne of Jade, will be posted tomorrow – and the reading start next week, following straight on from the first book! Stay tuned for that.
My regular serial reviews also resumed recently, thanks to Serial Box’s latest production. Whitehall is a historical-fiction account of the life and times of King Charles II of England, beginning with his marriage to Catherine of Braganza. It’s filling the Tremontaine-sized hole in my life nicely, and is teaching me history at the same time! I may only be two episodes in at this point, but I’m enjoying it immensely. My reviews will be archived here.
With all of the group-reading and serial-reviewing going on, I’ve almost been shoehorning in the novel-reading – but I did make time to write up a review of one in particular that’s become near and dear to my heart. False Hearts by Laura Lam is her adult science fiction debut, and will be released on June 16th. If you’re a fan of Orphan Black, Inception and/or Blade Runner, and diverse SFF is what floats your boat, then you need this book in your life. In fact, I am so convinced of this particular statement that I’m giving away a copy! If you live in the UK and you love shiny hardcovers, leave a comment on my review and you could be in with a chance at winning! The giveaway will be open until Monday, June 13th.
A couple of other excellent stories I did manage to read, and which absolutely deserve mentioning, are Thomas Olde Heuvelt’s UK debut novel, HEX, and Fran Wilde’s fantasy novella The Jewel And Her Lapidary.
HEX is a horror novel very much in the vein of Stephen King, if King was a lot younger and European. This kind of ‘small American town hiding a deadly secret’ horror story is one that King is well known for, if not one which he does best, and Heuvelt acquits himself marvellously in that arena. I cut my teeth on horror by reading King’s books, and I’ve loved them since my early teens. I adored HEX, even if (or precisely because) it gave me some serious creeps. I’m not ashamed to admit I had to keep a lamp on for a couple of nights while reading it, and if that’s not a top-marks recommendation for a horror story, I don’t know what is.
HEX is published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton and is available now.
The Jewel And Her Lapidary, by contrast, is a gorgeously written fantasy story, and as my first taste of Fran Wilde’s work (not counting her short story ‘You Are Two Point Three Meters From Your Destination’), it’s definitely left me wanting more. It reads like a blend of fantasy and alternate-viewpoint historical account, and its protagonists (both female) are deeply sympathetic. Given Wilde’s apparent knack for putting fresh and interesting twists on familiar tales and/or tropes (again, see the story linked above…), I’m definitely more encouraged than ever to read her novel, Updraft… And oh, look! It’s ready and waiting on my Kindle! Sorted.
The Jewel and Her Lapidary is published by Tor.com and is available now.
So! That’s that for May. Now onward, to see what June will bring…